There are formal and informal cultures of learning, and this post discusses how both are used and how to put them to work in home health care, HME, Private Duty and Therapy businesses.
This article referenced in SmartBrief on Leadership is from Mary Jo Asmus, a former Fortune 100 exec turned executive coach. In her December 28th article, “Note to C-Suite: Flaunt Your Learning and Development,” she cautions against the all-too-common practice of hiding your learning. Instead, she writes, “We all need to continue to learn. We all have developmental needs, and this doesn’t mean we’re weak or bad leaders. It means we need to continually reinvent ourselves to keep up, and that is a good thing. It means that there is always something to get better at.” Asmus continues with two bits of valuable advice for leaders:
Be open about your learning and development The downside of not being open about your own learning is that you risk encouraging a culture that downplays learning or encourages an attitude of invincibility. That attitude can have serious consequences, including discouraging creativity and fostering a culture that is quick to cover up errors.
Encourage learning throughout your organization Support you staff in their learning and encourage continuous learning. Discuss learning openly an coach them in applying what they learn in the workplace.
Ankota is the fourth software startup I have been involved in. At think3 (Santa Clara, CA), I had the good fortune of working alongside a Silicon Valley icon named Joe Costello. Joe is a tremendous leader and visionary with an enviable track record that includes leading Cadence Design Systems (NASDAQ: CDNS) from startup to IPO and $1B+ in annual revenue. Among his numerous recognitions is one from Chief Executive Magazine recognizing him as the most effective CEO among all publicly traded companies in North America. Perhaps Joe’s greatest trait is his creativity, followed closely by his continual thirst for learning. This drives him 24x7, and it is a trait that he readily embraces and speaks about openly. As a result, the people around Joe clamor to learn more, as well. His teams are constantly looking at other business models and industries. They do this not because he directs them to, but because they feed off of his fervor and example. He encourages dialogue and even dispute, because it almost always advances creativity and accelerates execution.
In 2007, we sold a startup, iLumin, to software giant CA (NASDAQ: CA, formerly Computer Associates). While think3 had a vibrant culture of informal learning, CA has a very formal, structured culture that demands constant learning. In a company of 14,000+ employees, the structure helps. Every employee at every level, from CEO to receptionist, has learning objectives by which they are measured and compensated. During my four years there that followed the acquisition by CA, I gladly completed executive programs provided by Harvard Business School and others. Topics ranged from financial management to law, project management and operations. I benefitted tremendously, as does everyone at CA.
Learning in Home Health, HME, Therapy and Private Duty Businesses
There has always been a learning culture in healthcare that is focused on preparing and maintaining clinical skills and certifications. Of course, this is mandated by regulatory bodies and managed through continuing education credits. This type of learning is focused on establishing and maintaining competency. It is necessary, even required, in order to operate your business. However, competency is not sufficient to ensure success.
As a leader, how do your actions convey the value that you place on learning? Do you learn and share lessons through coaching? Or is it ignored? Either way, your staff notices and takes their cue from you. Here are a few things you can do to start the ball rolling:
Read articles, blogs, and books that focus on leadership and running a business, and that are not focused on your industry. Share the best ones with your staff. Share some bad ones and tell them why you don’t like them.
Hold formal & informal discussions with your staff, asking them what they would like to learn in 2011. Help them narrow it to no more than 2-3 actionable items and build a plan and support and encourage them throughout the year. Maybe you give them a Borders Books gift card, or send them to a workshop, or enroll them in a class.
One of the best values for your business is to educate managers on financial concepts. There are inexpensive courses with titles like “Finance for Non-Financial Managers.” If you treat them like a business manager, they will think like business managers and begin to correlate their operations with the financial impact they have on the company. They will also know that you value their opinions and ability to impact the business.